Because the Scriptures were originally written in languages other than English, occasionally we encounter a situation where there is no adequate word in the English to translate the original word. This unfortunately is the case with a very critical world in the New Testament…the word translated in English as believe. In the original Greek, the word carries far more meaning than simply an intellectual agreement. The original word carries with it the concept of entrusting yourself to whatever you believe.
To illustrate the difference, I’ve often used the example of a bulletproof vest. It is one thing to look and hold a bulletproof vest and say that you “believe” it will stop a bullet. It is entirely something different to put on that bulletproof vest and have someone fire a gun at you. The second action better encapsulates what is meant by the original word translated ‘believe’ here in John.
In the first Century when a person believed and accepted the Gospel, they were in a very real way also entrusting their lives to God. At that time, followers of Jesus were often persecuted and killed simply because of their faith. They were putting on the Gospel as a “bulletproof vest”, not to protect themselves in this world, but as a guarantee that they would enter the next.
Through our rigorous training as physicians, we have been taught to accept the veracity of facts thrown at us in medical school, residency and within our medical journals. We are used to the concept of intellectual assent on a topic.
We must be careful that we don’t approach the Gospel as a truth that requires mere intellectual assent. Yes, we are asked to accept that Jesus created the universe, descended to earth to become man, and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. But the Gospel is also a call to a relationship with that Creator. We are asked to not only believe His claims, but also to entrust our lives to Him. Have you both believed and also entrusted your life to Him?
Prayer: Lord, help me to not only believe the truth of the Gospel, but also place my trust in You to live according to Your will.